Interview with Martin Bryce

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Carpentry, photography, theatre, walking, diving, sailing. Of course there's always the unexpected like having to administer CPR, or dialling triple zero for the exsanguinating attempted suicide you just found. But these are rare. The mundane more accurately defines us than the highs and lows of life. For example, I've just put a loaf of bread into the oven to bake. That has fulfilled. the creative impulse today and will give me great pleasure later on. It's a self-sufficiency thing.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don't read ebooks. Does that surprise you? Actually that's not entirely true; I have read one. Its title is 'Unavoidably Detained' and it was written by a Royal Marine officer I served under in a former life. Badly written, but worse, the editing is an absolute disgrace. It should be a required text for Editing 101 - how not to do it. No, I have to have real pages to turn.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I wish I could forget it.
What is your writing process?
Honestly, I don't really have one. I just find myself bashing out words with no real explanation why. I wrote a children's book, 'Brass Bob', many years ago. I was carrying out an archaeological survey in the middle of nowhere at the time. I'd arrived back at my accommodation and was sitting down to write up my field notes. The next thing I knew there was the story complete. Written longhand in one sitting. I honestly have no memory of writing it and it was published by MacMillan Australia with only one single small change. But here's where it gets spooky. It was the story of an old pioneer sheep grazier who was a widower and whose greatest joy was sitting on his verandah listening to records on the wind-up gramophone that he and his wife had bought when they were setting up home together. My wife illustrated the story and we both went out to the nearby derelict sheep station so she could make some sketches. I turned off the engine of the car and we couldn't believe what happened next. Faintly, carried on the gentle breeze and without a word of a lie, we could hear the unmistakable sound of music being played on an old gramaphone. The homestead was roofless, the walls half tumbled and the rooms were empty. Now I'm about as skeptical as they come, as is Julia. But it happened and we have no explanation for it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Robinson Crusoe. It fired my lust for travel and exploration. More immediately it inspired me to carve a notch in my bedhead every day for months afterwards. My parents didn't seem to mind.
How do you approach cover design?
I don't. I can't design a full stop, so I leave it to the experts.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
'Riddle of the Sands' because it's got boats in it (see also Robinson Crusoe in a previous answer). 'Our Lady of the Forest' by David Guterson; as far as I'm concerned it's close to perfect writing, but even better it's perfect storytelling. 'The Living Mountain' by Nan Shepherd; it's prose, but so close to being poetry that I never need to read poetry again. There are many more I'd like to add from, 'Thus Spake Zarathustra', through 'The Road to Nab End' to 'Spythatcher'. But I have to single out 'The Outermost House' by Henry Beston as a giant in the nature and environment genre. The problem with choosing favourite books, of course, is it so much depends on your mood at the time of reading and at the time of choosing. And you have to leave so many out.
Describe your desk
A pigsty.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
On the fringe of the Lake District in the UK. It taught me about beauty, the weather, self reliance, independence, respect for the planet, our home, the only one we've got. I also learned about hill farming, the seasons and never to suffer fools gladly. I earned my first money at six or seven selling rabbit and mole skins to a dealer in Lancaster. I was paid 2/6d and promptly blew it on a very large tub of brylcreem, so I also learned the value of money.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Memories and mistakes. But I have to say that from the vantage point of late middle age, although I have a vault of memories, most forgotten, and an embarassment of mistakes to my name, I have no regrets.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Stopping at the end of the day.
Who are your favorite authors?
Where to start? Hemingway, Orwell, Tom Sharpe, David Guterson, Shakespeare (finally), Grey Owl, Le Carre, Farley Mowat; it's a very big list, but that'll do for starters.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Kippers for breakfast and a glass of whiskey at the end of it.
Published 2014-07-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Boracic Lint
Price: Free! Words: 66,790. Language: English. Published: May 22, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
An out of work actor with a serious superiority complex lands work playing Santa Claus in the grotto of the world famous London department store, Harridges. It seems like child's play , it turns out to be anything but. Every ounce of his improvisation skills is challenged by the children who come to see him. His colleagues stretch his wit and wisdom to the limit until he makes a fateful decision.